During the first full week of April, the American Public Health Association (APHA) celebrates National Public Health Week and this year marks the 20th anniversary. The APHA takes this time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlights important issues that will improve the health of the nation.
The accomplishments of public health over the last 20 years are substantial. Public health is credited with adding 25 years to the life expectancy of people in the United States in this century. Some of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century according to the CDC include:
• Healthier Mothers & Babies – Infant and maternal mortality rates have decreased in the U.S. Environmental interventions, improvements in nutrition, advances in clinical medicine, improvements in access to health care, improvements in surveillance and monitoring of disease, increases in education levels, and improvements in standards of living contributed to this remarkable decline.
• Immunizations – Today, U.S. vaccination coverage is at record high levels! National efforts to promote vaccine use among all children has helped eradicate Smallpox and dramatically decrease the number of cases of Polio, Measles, Hib and other diseases in the U.S.
• Motor Vehicle Safety – We’ve seen a huge reduction in the rate of death attributable to motor vehicle crashes in the United States, which represents the successful public health response to a great technologic advancement (the motorization of America). The response has spanned government, public health and driver and passenger behavior.
• Family Planning – Increased contraception use, public health education and other factors mean that, today, Americans face fewer unintended pregnancies and are far more likely to achieve desired birth spacing and family size.
• Tobacco as a Health Hazard – During 1964-1992, approximately 1.6 million deaths caused by smoking were prevented thanks to substantial public health efforts.
• Decline in Deaths from Heart Attack & Stroke – Still the country’s top killers, the public health community has helped achieve remarkable declines in deaths from both diseases: since 1950, deaths from cardiovascular disease have declined 60 percent, and stroke rates have declined 70 percent.
To help the education efforts of public health, Learning ZoneXpress has developed a wide range of nutrition resources that are appropriate in both WIC and public health settings. These teaching tools are designed to help educate individuals and families on the importance of healthy choices.
So let’s celebrate these public health accomplishments during National Public Health Week and remember to help raise awareness about public health and the importance of making healthy choices all year long.